Victor Bloede- Mackey's Antiques & Clock Repair

VICTOR BLOEDE HISTORY

 

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VICTOR BLOEDE HISTORY

 

A chemist from Baltimore who made the gum that has long been used on all government postage and revenue stamps, began his work in Parkersburg. Through more than 60 years of extensive research, he built his reputation until he became one  of the most prominent figures in the world of modern chemistry industry before he died. His name was Victor Gustav Bloede, and he carried on in a Baltimore factory, which was founded by himself, an industry unique and rare until his death In the mid-1930's. It is an industry which he began with a group of associates of his own age, back in the early 1870's in a small plant located on the south side of the Little Kanawha River, not far from where it empties into the Ohio. The venture, which involved him in international controversy, was the making of aniline dyes in competition with the German empire.

 

One spring, ol Man River rose up and wiped the whole of the American Aniline Works off the map. the colored folks along the banks clear down to Cincinnati proclaimed a miracle the waters had turned to raspberry. It was really a tragedy, not a miracle. Not only was it a tragedy for Bloede, or "V.G." as he was known to his friends here in town, but to more than 300 laborers who found themselves suddenly without any means of

earning a living. Most of them, Were Poles and Germans who; had settled at this point because of their countryman's interest in it.

 

Victor G. BIoede was born in Dresden in 1849 in an environment packed with suspense; romance, and deadly danger, to a father seriously embroiled in the revolution which had broken out the year before. At the age of one year, his family sought refuge in the United States. His father knew that if he ever set foot in Germany again, he might be sure of execution. The elder Bloede settled his family in Brooklyn and took up the twin

professions of jurist and physician When young Victor Came of school age, he enrolled with children of his age, and finally began studying chemistry.

 

In a school founded by Peter Cooper, he studied under the eyes of Mr. Cooper himself. After graduation, he served as assistant instructor in the same school from which he later received many honors. Victor's was a family whose men had known achievement in metallurgy and chemistry. The semi-precious stone "bloedite" was named after his grand-father, and the same German genius who marked him was inherently Victor's. I

The United States at about  this time was hard-pressed by the supremacy of Germany in the matter of aniline dyes. Germany's processes were guarded carefully, and it was considered a high crime to give away trade secrets then. Why Victor Bloede came to settle in Parkersburg no one knows.

 

perhaps he felt as others did  a town at the mouth of two It wasn't long until he became involved in a controversy with an unbelievably long name, the  Konigkaiserlichesdeutschreichs . industrien schutbureau. which sounded at least worse than the forces which had caused his father's banishment.

 

Safe in West Virginia, the young Bloede could and did tell them where to go or any where, where to stay and he continued to make anilines in competition with the German empire, greatly prospering. Until 1884, when the flood; washed the plant away, along with the pulp factory which had been established at about the same place on the river, and in which Bloede also bad extensive interests. In 1883, Bloede, 34 years Old, met and married Miss Elsie Schon, the daughter of a civil engineer from Toledo, Mr. and  Mrs. Bloede established their residence on what is now lower George St. Meanwhile, a branch factory had been established at Canton, Baltimore, to utilize waste products. It was this factory to which the chemist went, following the destruction of his West Virginia venture on the banks of the Little' Kanawha River.

 

Among the approximately 300 men who worked for the American Aniline Works was John Devlin, who is one of the few employes of that plant still living in the late 30's. In a conversation with a Sentinel reporter in that year, Devlin described Bloede as he knew him, and the Aniline Works contacts he had. "He was highly respected by

his employes," Devlin said. I worked for him for 12 years, going there when I was a kid in 1878. He was a quiet man with sideburns and a slender face.

 

He studied so much, he always had one shoulder up Vint Rathbone was one of the men who was in business with him. For a time, it was known as the Bloede-Rathbon place. Cas Rathbone worked in the office. So did John Riehle. Frank Schumann was one of his chemists. The last heard of Schumann was when an issue of the National Geographic devoted space to a venture of his in northern Africa, in which he had invented a pumping jack controlled by steam Manufactured by the heat of the sun.

 

"AI Ruckman was one of his bookkeepers, and Paul Barrett, Otto Munchmeyer, who lived out at Mineral Wells and is now dead, was his foreman. James A. Moffitt, who later' became head of the Standard Oil Company, also was associated with him. Moffitt's son, who was also James A.. figured, prominently in the oil code under the N.R.A. ) "Bloede manufactured a little of everything. Besides the aniline coloring, the plant made nitrate of red, coppers, nitrate of iron, true-iron, ammonia, soluble oil, nitric acid, nitric sulphuric, arsenic acid, and sulphuric acid. Sometimes the stench was so awful it smelled up the whole town.

 

Much of the sulphuric acid was shipped to Pomeroy, where it was used in the making of  bromine explosions. Bloede was one of the grandest men who ever lived. I used to see him after work in the evenings, when he would take long walks out to Munchmeyer homes at Mineral Wells, along with Frank Schumann. He owned a steam yacht called the Victor in which you also saw him on the river Most of the men employed were Poles and Germans. There was August Schmidt, Jacob Smeltzer, William Bowers, Pierce Littleton, and Otto Laymen, who was Well known as 'Pop'. Pop was one of his teamsters. We used to have big times. We were all like one big family. Bloede' left many friends in Parkersburg when he went to Baltimore. Among them are the Grimm family. the Rathbones, the Levin Smith's, and many of the men who worked for and  with him.

 

At one time, the Sunday supplement of the Baltimore Sun devoted a page to him. The story was headed, "The Man Who Makes the Stamps Stick, and spoke of him at the age of 80, still working in his laboratory. He is modest and reticent, the story runs, both in regard to his personal beliefs and to the extensive charitable works in  which he has engaged in Brooklyn, New York. the city of his childhood, and' Maryland, the state of his choice.

 

The most important phase of his life, according to his friends, has come to be his phillarithropic interests. He is a member o{ the British Society of the Chemical Industry, as well as the American Chemical Society, and one of the charter members of the Chemists' Club of New York, the gathering place for chemists all over the country. Not long after the story appeared, Bloede died. This was the man who made the postage stamp gum for the government, who began his career right here, in Parkersburg.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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